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The World Events between the 15th Century and the 19th Century

Today the world has been formed not only from physical events that had caused separation of the continents, but also from major historical events that occurred in the past especially from the 14th century to the 19th century. Often this period can be considered to be very important in history as important exchanges between the Old World and the New World occurred. The Book World’s Together Worlds Apart – A History of the Modern World, has tried to integrate several regions of the World and able to associate the happening of one region of the world with another, during a certain period of time.

Columbian Exchange The world was one huge land mass millions of years ago, and consisted of several continents of today including Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa as one. Once the new world was formed, there was a divergent evolution that developed. For instance, if one side of the North America, rattle snakes developed, on the either side vipers developed. The Old World (that existed millions of years ago) was well-connected in comparison to the New World in which ecologies, flora, fauna and others did not mix about.

However, during the 14th and the 15th century, great amount of voyages were conducted by various European voyagers including Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, etc. When these voyages began, there was again intermingling of animal, plant and various cultures (following their introduction in the foreign land), resulting in what is known as “Columbian Exchange”. This intermingling can be considered to be a spectacular event leading to important events (Alfred Crosby. 2007). There are several instances of describing the Columbian Exchange.

During the 14th and the 15th century, Europe was a more developed place and when the North American continent was discovered, cultivated crops (such as wheat, barley, rice, etc) did not exist and the wild animals (such as llama, fowl, dog, guinea pig, prairie dog, etc), were present rather than domesticated animals (such as cattle, horses, goats, etc). In the New World, disease-causing agents such as mosquitoes, rats, bacteria and viruses, were also not existent that were common in the densely populated Europe. Once, the Columbian Exchange occurred, there was an intermingling of various ecologies.

Several regions were involved in the Columbian Exchange including Australia, New Zealand, North America, South America, Asia, etc (Alfred Crosby. 2007). The Columbian Exchange had a both a good effect and also a negative effect on nature. The European voyagers who were the initial pioneers of Columbian exchange had plundered and murdered several native tribes and communities. Diseases, from Europe spread onto America. The American Indians were actually unprepared to face such epidemics and were also prone. Some of the diseases that caused serious impact include plague, malaria and chicken pox.

However, it has also a positive effect, as new plants and animals had been introduced in a new environment and could propagate further helping the people of the new world with several contributions in clothes, medicines, food, etc. Cultures mixed, and today in many regions of the World as Global cultures are formed, a lot of contribution is actually made from the Columbian Exchanges (Alfred Crosby. 2007). Age of Discovery During the late 15th century, several European states including Portugal, Spain, England, France and Dutch, were interested in exploring the new world.

Hence, they formed several voyages and left the Old World for discovering the New World. It was not very costly to do such discoveries, but there were a lot of risks involved. The European sailors would go around searching for land, and once discovered, they would search for natives and try to become friendly with them. Once they identify the value and the goodness, they would then try to exploit the natives and often use force in the process. During such exploitations, there were frequently conflicts in which the native armies were completely destroyed. The age of Discovery and exploration lasted for more than 500 years.

Since it suggested an entire period during which the world was interested in a certain activity that was very significant in history, it could well be termed as “Age’. The European Voyagers had four basic reasons for engaging in trips to discover the New World. They were trying to gain an understanding of various cultures and traditions across the world (Kreis). Following the Crusade of the 12th and the 13th centuries and the Black Death of the 13th and the 14th centuries, the voyagers felt an urgent need to search for a New World and were motivated by the happenings in Europe.

There was also the need for Europe to expand its powers towards the West, as Islamic religious kingdoms were attacking from the East and preventing trade. During the 11th and the 12th century AD, Europe had made significant progress with relation to trade, education, technology, development, professions, arts, industry, etc. European cities were growing and Christianity had helped to establish a belief system. Now people were on the path to development. Europe had also developed naval technology to go for long voyages with several people on board.

Some of the devices that helped in conquering the seas included clocks, compasses, sails, weaponry, etc. The voyages were mainly to discover India and to find new ways that lead to the country that had bountiful to offer in terms of trade and new cultural avenues (Robert Tignor, 2002). The term Age of Discovery and Exploration is appropriate as during the period from 15th century to the 19th century, several new lands including Australia, New Zealand, Americas, etc, and new ways of going to other lands were discovered. Following the Age of Discovery, the map of the world changed entirely.

Atlantic Slave Trade The Atlantic Slave trade began in 15th century and continued till the early 20th century. It involved capturing and transferring African individuals and making them work under forced labor laws in Europe and across the Atlantic in Americas. More than 10 million slaves had been transferred during the 15th century to the 19th century. In the Americas it was found that agricultural plantations could do huge business and trade. Europeans especially took control of such plantations and required laborers to do work.

They could not employ local natives and hence had to seek the use of slaves. Some of the regions in which slaves were utilized extensively included Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, the Caribbean, Central America, Canada, US, Mexico, Europe, etc. During the 15th to the 19th century, more than 2 million slaves lost their lives during the difficult conditions that existed in ships during transportation (MSN Encarta. 2008). The Atlantic Slave trade had an enormous effect on the life of various continents including Africa, Americas and Europe.

Before the slave trade across the Atlantic began, it was itself very rampant in Africa. It began as early as the 7th century AD and continued till the 20th century. In the sub-Saharan regions of Africa, slaves did various forms of family work and were involved in agriculture. They did work of the state when they served the royal family. During wars, slaves were captured and forced to work for the capturers. Slave merchants had been selling slaves from Western Africa to the Saharan and Northern portions of Africa.

The slave merchants were more than happy to trade slaves with the Europeans as they received more value and huge number of slaves was transported within a very short duration of time (MSN Encarta. 2008). Earlier the slaves worked in plantations in tropical regions of Americas that grew sugarcane and transported it to Europe. However, the plantation owners felt that they could gain greater profits by growing coffee, tobacco, rice, cotton, maize and other cash crops. Slave labor was required in plantations as the work required was hard and the plantation workers often employed inhuman conditions.

The slaves were legally bound to work for their feudal lords. Plantations that were originally an idea in Europe began to be implemented by the Spanish and the Portuguese in the Americas, and soon several Latin American nations seemed to become leading producers of sugarcane. Soon the British which colonized several territories in North America also got interested in the slave trade and employed them to work for tobacco plantations (MSN Encarta. 2008). Before the actual slave trade began, the Europeans tried to use forced labor on the Native American tribes, but many of them did not survive epidemics of mumps, small pox, etc.

The Europeans tried to use European slaves and criminals for plantation work, but many of them fell to illnesses such as yellow fever and malaria. However, the African slaves were resistant to several diseases including small pox, malaria, yellow fever (both that existed in Europe and North America). It was easy to employ Africans as they found it difficult to go back home and were also easily identified in case they tried to escape. Africans were also a very cheap source of labor compared to the use of Europeans.

The slave trade peaked during the late 18th century when more than 80000 slaves travelled across the Atlantic every year. The Europeans used commodities to buy slaves from Africa, and later transported the slaves to the Americas in return for sugarcane, coffee, tobacco, etc. The profits obtained out of the slave trade, were utilized to buy more slaves from Africa and utilize them in plantations that were increasing with time (MSN Encarta. 2008). Before slaves were used in the Americas, they were in plantations of sugar in European locations such as Sicily, Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, etc.

However, the Black Death epidemics caused a huge disruption of life across Europe leading a decline in sugar production. There was an increased demand for refined sugar in Europe, and locations in North America provided to be valuable for cultivation provided the labor was available. Hence, to cater to the needs of European communities, there was a rise in the slave trade (Robert Tignor, 2002). Conclusion Today, it is important to consider the history of the world and the developments as they occurred between the 14th to the 19th century (as these were vital in forming the Modern World).

The Age of Discovery has helped to determine the bounties of the earth and today, man is left at looking for explorations beyond the earth. The Columbian Exchange has helped in intermingling of various plants, animals throughout the world, and the slave trade has ensured that global communities are established. Whether it may be constructive of destructive act performed in history, all events would ultimately lead to a destiny that the role players would have not anticipated. Works Cited Crosby, Alfred.

The Columbian Exchange. 12 June 2007. 2 March 2009 <http://www. historynow. org/06_2007/historian2. html>. Kreis, Steven. Lecture 2: The Age of Discovery. 17 January 2007. 1 March 2009 <http://www. historyguide. org/earlymod/lecture2c. html>. MSN Encarta. Atlantic Slave Trade. 2008. 2 March 2009 <http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761595721/atlantic_slave_trade. html>. Tignor, Robert. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the Modern World (1300 to the Present) (Paperback). W. W. Norton & Company: US, 2002.

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